Joseph E. Kist, known to us as Joe Kist, came to the Math Department in 1966 during its period of its explosive growth. Joe received his Ph.D. from Purdue in 1957 from Meyer Jerison of the “Rings of Continuous Functions” fame and held positions at Wayne State and Penn State before coming to NMSU. Joe had 7 Ph.D. students at NMSU and enjoyed a long career studying rings of continuous functions and operator algebras. After his retirement in the 1990’s he remained an active participant in department seminars, including the algebra and lattice theory seminar, until a few years before his death in October 2018.
Joe grew up in Buffalo NY as one of three children of parents that immigrated from Germany. His love of mathematics began in a vocational program for electricians he took as an undergraduate in high school. Joe lived his life in a modest unassuming way, devoted to academics ranging from his work in mathematics, to deep interests in literature, history, and science. Throughout his life, Joe was a quiet humanitarian, supporting the Salvation Army, local symphony, instigating a scholarship fund for graduate students, among many other causes.
Upon his death, the department found out that Joe donated a large sum to support graduate education in our department. This endowment will affect the lives of students far into the future. The income from the Kist money will provide annual funds for the department in perpetuity. This year the amount was a bit over $60,000. This will provide direct support through the Kist Fellowships we are introducing, support for conference travel, hosting conferences and visitors in our department, and many other uses. What Joe did not use for himself will greatly improve the lives of many, many others.
On January 7, we gathered to celebrate the gift, and thank Joe’s memory and his representative Pat Johnson. Pat worked for many years to help this gift become a reality, and our department has deep appreciation for her efforts. Pat and Don Johnson (a longtime friend and coauthor of Joe) were present at the ceremony with many current and former members of the department, as well as Deans Pontelli and Lakey.
Thank you Joe!